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04 June 2009


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That's not"Baby Steps". That's political Kabuki theater.

It's a lot more entertaining than "Baby Steps".

It's just "more change we can believe in". We got those obnoxious Israelis on the run now!


The entire speech (about 1 hr) in youtube clips.

I thought it was a good neutral, seek common ground speech. Not going to make everybody happy, but strike all the essential parts. Nice delivery too.

picks a nice spot to deliver.


Charles Cameron (hipbone)

Thanks as always for your insights, Col. Lang.

I would be interested to learn more about what you mean by "the truth as Rumi saw it" -- do you have a particular poem in mind?



Could it have been Obama's hot air, and Hillary didn't want to mess up her 'doo'? Just a thought.

Babak Makkinejad


Al-Allamah al-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabataba'i (1892-1981), in Tafseer Al Mizan, states:

“…a man cannot be a true servant of Allah unless he believes in all that was revealed to the apostles of Allah without making any difference between revelation and revelation, or between apostle and apostle…”

See: http://www.almizan.org/Tafseer/Volume1/Baqarah1.asp

By the “apostles of Allah” he means all the 124,000 prophets that, according to Islamic Tradition, have been given a message, a mission, or both by God. Among them are Moses, Jesus, and others.

At this moment in history, in my opinion, Islam and Christianity are not in conflict. Islamic Republic of Iran has excellent relations with Armenia, with Greece, with the Vatican, and with any number of pre-dominantly Catholic countries in Africa, Europe, and South America.

It is the protestant Christians and the post-Christian secularist in North America and certain West European states that seem to think that there is a margin in provoking or fighting Muslims.


What with reports that secular Jews are leaving the Promised Land in droves (Harper's), Zion is increasingly in the hands of Russian thugs and religious fanatics. Trends that were heading south before security forces turned a blind eye to Rabin's assassination are only accelerating.
Any attempt by other elected leaders to bring about something less than a Palestinian Potemkin village may well be met by similar actions by well armed, well trained & US Ppt-carrying fanatics. Given the nuke situation, it's not likely that a "Masada-like" scenario will play out solely within Israel's borders.


I doubt many people here, certainly not Col. Lang, need to be reminded that Islam is a separate historical project and as such has some oppositions with the Western historical project that will never be resolved to the satisfaction of members of either. Some things have to remain dynamically opposed, no matter the wishes of the Masters on either side.

Obama is well advised. In his speech he used the phrase 'justice and prosperity' not the 'freedom and prosperity' that we, as Westerners, have been conditioned with. Everyone I spoke to here caught that immediately. The Muslims have their own conditioning and while Rumi may indeed have laughed at them all, we are stuck with who and what we are: Grapes can have different colors, textures and tastes and still be grapes.

We can live with dynamic oppositions or try to force stasis on the other side. I think Obama is on the right track.


The frame has dramatically shifted in the past two months.

Because of the unprecedented spotlight on the settlements, occupation, and failure to keep one's word, Israel has lost its status as eternal victim. On the contrary, the spotlight is shining on how Israel victimizes.

Likewise, the Palestinians are no longer THE terrorists. And they are not just terrorists. By explicitly stating that their situation is intolerable, Obama is conceding that they are victims as well.

All in all, Obama has done a masterful job of changing the frame of reference and equilibrating the moral positions occupied by Israel and the Palestinians.

Dark, dark days in Jerusalem. For the Israelis it has to be a disaster for the moral high ground to suddenly be yanked out from underneath them. Stripped of their phony aura of moral behavior, how can they continue to justify being a bully?


To me, Obama's Cairo speech just gave the Islamic world (and the Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood) a "carte blanche" to advance Islam all over America and the world with all possible means. You may disagree with it but that's how I saw it, plain and simple, and for what it's really about. The world will not belong to Islam and never will be!

A. Allen

The living heart of the great religions beat as One in the Mystics and the Saints, not the clerics or fundamentalists, nor even your religious man on the Street. When I was young it was my great good fortune to spent several years among such men and women. I witnessed several gatherings of Saints hailing from such diverse traditions as Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam: harmony, love and mutual understanding reigned between them. What does it mean to be a true Muslim? Ask a Sufi Adept (or one of his Hindu, Christian or Buddhist peers...)


Could you explain your Rumi reference a bit more, please?


"The dog barks but the caravan marches on."

I thought you were referring to a carnival barker on my 1st read. "C'mon, win the lady a prize!" Eye/beholder/giant stuffed panda.


PL, could you please define "Islamicate"?

I think I know what you mean, all the peoples of Islam, both secular and practicing, but want to make sure. Thanks, Trent

Abu Sinan

Good points, but as a Muslim I really think too much is made about the religion issue. At it's core the real issues are political.

Getting too wrapped up in the religious issue here is playing into the hands of bin Laden and the extremists. The vast majority of the issues currently between the West and the Muslim world are secular issues with clear secular answers.

Most recruits to AQ and related groups do not join up to forge an Islamic Caliphat, they dont join up to impose Shari'a law in Europe or to ban women in tub tops buy beer at 7-11s.

They join for overt secular political reasons, the occupation of Palestine, US support for Israel, US support for Muslim dictators.

Lets not forget that for the majority of the struggle against Israel, the US and the West, it was a lefist secular struggle. The move to a religious angle only happened because of the failure of pan Arabism and left wing movements to provide any results.

Eventually this current Islamist trend will fade like the leftists and pan Arabs before them and be replaced with something new.

This is where many people go wrong. When it is presented as a religious issue then it seems insolveable, an eternal struggle, when the truth is that there are clear political goals and steps that could be taken to solve much of the issues.


Let us hope that for the excess of talking heads the Arabic proverb can apply: La yadur al-sahab, nabah al-kilab, unless my romanization has deserted me, The clouds are not frightened by the barking of dogs.
Clearly, the Cairo speech was no solution, but it seems an improvement over, "bring 'em on."

R Whitman

Baby steps are better than no steps.

Obama needs a big "win" in the foreign policy sphere to insure his re-election three years from now. I see the fine political hand of Rahm Emmanuel in this. Try for an accomodation with Cuba, Iran, or Palestine/Israel in the next few years and hope one or more happens.

William R. Cumming

Okay subtract 'Oil' and 'Israel' and where does the Arab world stand? I think this is good way to focus and others say too hypothetical. Actually I don't but time will tell. Not in favor of course of disappearance of either!
Is the religion of Islam practiced by 3M or 7 M as I see both figures used would like to know sources and accuracy.
Finally, OBAMA right in one conclusion and that is Islam is part of Western tradition and religion. Not out of the East so to speak. Does not mean any fundamental reconciliation possible but interesting to know cross-religious impacts other than dead bodies! Any good studies of the relationship religious doctrine wise between Judiasm, Christianity, and Islam? Recent? Are we talking past each other because of religion, or something else?
Who is looking at these various dialectics? Certainly not the INTEL community.

Patrick Lang


With regard to Rumi, he was a man who saw God in love, not in rules or sects. More than that I will not say.


Marshall Hodgson made some intersting and useful distinctions with regard to;

Islam - the religion itself

Islamdom - the lands of Islam's dominion as in "Christendom."

Islamicate - an adjective. in this case applied to the words "civilization" or "culture" meaning that culture deeply and crucially affected by Islam.

Abu Sinan

Religion has many aspects. Religion as philosophy or path salvation is one thing. Religion as sect is quite another. For the violent zealots there is no difference between religion and politics. I think we have had this discussion before. pl

frank durkee

Col. Meister Eckhardt, the great 14th century christian mystic has a poem called "The Donkey" which speaks to your comment about Rumi [ whom i also like }. The closing lines are: "that's what love does, love frees.".


The "truth" has a resonance that is undeniable......

Obama's speech
the eternal-capital

I came to you with a message of Peace,
this Peace is for Israel, of course,
and not necessarily for the Arabs.
The Bible of Hegemony said so.

I came to you with the promise to end up the occupation
and indeed the Arabs-of-Israel may no more occupy
their own homes , and would have to move out....
The Bible of Hertzl said so.....

I came with the promise to terminate the settlements
on the West Bank ......
because we simply are going to annex it,
and call it also "Israel" .
The Bible of Ariel said so.

As for the Golan ,
it shall no more be an occupied-land
but a part of the Kingdom of Salomon .
The Bible of Benyamin said so.

The four Million Palestinian Refugees
do not exist anymore !!
and to mention them ,
or to mention their mysery,
shall be punishable by law .
The Bible of the Knesset said so.

Only the Holocaust took place
and nobody else , ever died !!

Changes are now implemented !!
Changes are now taking shape !!
Changes are hereby delivered !!

As for the inhabitants of the West Bank
they may choose to run-away and hide
under the boots of King Abdullah
or to go and die , once more , in Sabra and Chatila
or to be relocated in Kurdistan , for ever.
The Bible of Congress said so.

As for Gaza ,
it shall be evacuated, depopulated
and turned into a Nature-Reserve- Park
for the sub-tropical- Sea-Birds.
The Bible of ecology said so.

Changes are coming !! as you see....
and only my promises to the promised-lands will be kept.

Should you disagree or disobey me ,
I shall take my revenge on you ,
as follows :

I shall maintain Hosny Mubarak and his Gestapo
ruling on both sides of the Nile .

I shall maintain the Royal-Wahhabi' s-clan
guarding my oil-wells and your precious Qaaba .

I shall maintain Iraq , unmaintainable

I shall maintain Lebanon, ungovernable

I shall maintain Syria , isolated and demonised

I am the ruler of the Earth
never mind if I was born a Muslim.....
Look around you, how many other Moslem's are
also your own tyrants !! ??

Never mind if I converted to Christianity
look around you, how many Christians
have committed genocides ,
injustices and colonialism ??

Do not mind any religion
it is all about power...
the power to shape the others ,
without ever changing one-self
the power of promising anything
and then doing nothing ......or everything.

My name is Barrack son of Hussein Obama
born on the USA-Colony-of- Honolulu
from an African Muslim father,
I am member of a Black-Church because
the whites would not let me in their's ........

I am black . but I serve the White-Ashkenazim
I once was a Muslim but now I serve the Christian-Zionists !!
They, after all , have made me the President.

No contradictions here ,
because my power justifies what I want to do ,
and my ultimate-power, justifies everything you will suffer .

Power justifies slavery, imperialism
and even Zionism.....
Power makes me change my colour
and my religion too....

I became White and American and Imperialist
the day when I entered the US politics
who can tell me now :
no !!.......... .... you are Black and Moslem.
I am now white...as white as Michael Jackson is
and as white as Tipzi Livni is a Semite ....

Look at me, here in Cairo , on the Nile
in the once capital of Arabism.....
and now you all are cheap-cheeps ,
are standing here an listening to anything I would say,
you believe me.........because you fear me !!
I can feed you ............ as much as I can rule you !!

Where is now El Raiiss ???......
who once made you free-men .

Would El Sayyed take his place ??
and kick me out of the Canal ??

You are now spectators of your own enslavement
You are now witnesses of your own submission

I am the Obama from Omaha and Nebraska
I am the Obama from Alabama and Louisiana

I am the Obama from Oklahoma and Alaska
I am the Obama from the empire of evil.......
and you are only my wet-Rats on the Nile !!

Shut up !! turn back !!
............ and go peacefuly back home !!!
and pick up your chains , on your way out !!

Thank you !! and God bless the USA.......
Original text by :
Shlomo Goldberg, speech-writer
Translation by :
Eng. Moustafa Roosenbloom, double-agent
Copyright : Blue Star Publications Tel Aviv -Amman -Cairo


I usually find myself in agreement with your positions, but I find your last paragraph to be disturbingly cynical, even for you.

Obama is trying to start a healing process, to heal the wounds inflicted in the Middle East by the Cheney/Bush cabal. He is not being patronising and Hilary's head scarf is a gesture of respect for the sensitivities of her host, though clearly it was a photo-op gesture.

The key word you used was "excess" to describe Obama's cultural sensitivity comments. That is a statement of your opinion. It implies that some amount of cultural sensitivity is appropriate. Many who heard or read the speech don't believe it was excessive.


Muslims, to the extent that they really are Muslims, believe in the literal truth of these words.

This kind of statement may be true in a practical sense, but it always bothers me. If Muslims tie themselves to a specific understanding of the Quran, that is their choice. But who are we to say who really is a Muslim? Can we say, that a Christian, to the extent that they are real Christians, must reject Copernicus, Galileo, and Darwin?

Further, in accepting the literalists' (Muslims or Christians)definition of a "real" believer, we are conceding them too much - we are accepting their theology as factual.

That is, given the following two persons:

A Muslim who believes a literal reading of the Quran is a requirement for a real Muslim and other believers in the Quran but non-literalists are not real Muslims;

A Muslim who reads the Quran not literally, but say, as metaphor, but follows all the pillars of Islam

-- why are we making the determination that the first is correct and is a "real Muslim" and the second is not fully a Muslim? and who are we to do so?

Patrick Lang


All right. The vast majority of Muslims believe as I have described.


Generations of Egytian and other Arab women heave struggled for many years to control their own lives even in matters as small as how they dress. You and HC evidently don't care about that. You are more interested in being culturally sensitive.

How about clitoral "circumcision?" should we make some favorable gesture towards that also? It is quite common in Cairo and is well supported by the opinion of many there. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

It seems the President himself is trying hard and sincerely at least at the level of rhetoric and tone.

Some might construe his references to the Nazi era as a justification for the state of Israel, however.

But moving beyond the pleasant rhetoric, theatrics, atmospherics, PR and so on, the world awaits concrete and effective ACTION by the US.

Yes, the caravan does indeed pass...I recall seeing this quote in an Idries Shah book I read back in the 1960s. With regard to this image, I also think of Vansittart's "Mist Procession"....



Obama's omission in no way detracts from the seriousness of his commitment to a peace settlement and his speech suggests the beginning of the end of that era of almost unqualified support for Israel. His speech [1], like the rest of his Middle East policy, is full of the nuance that George W Bush famously excised from his rhetoric. For the diehard pro-Israeli crowd, it is a sort of reverse neutron bomb, which attacks the structure of Likud policy while temporarily leaving its protagonists intact. But they should watch for fallout.

In his hallmark tangential way, he dealt with the war in Iraq in a way that nobody back home could accuse of being unpatriotic. He carefully distinguished it from Afghanistan as a "war of choice", and said that it had "reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible". He did not as his leftist critics immediately complained, "apologize" or do penance. He merely said it would not happen again, which is enough for most of us.

While many Muslims would welcome the declaration of peace with the Islamic world, which he certainly took beyond pious platitudes, he and his audience are well aware that the litmus test will be delivery of a peace settlement in the Middle East. In fact, he does not even have to deliver - he merely has to show that the US is indeed an honest broker and not just Israel's second in an unequal dual with the Palestinians. That is a process that he has clearly begun and his speech is part of it.

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